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One more win erases a lot of bad memories for Caps

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- History finally did not repeat itself Monday night and Washington Capitals' fans are breathing a sigh of relief this morning.

The Capitals' 5-4 win snapped a streak of seven straight playoff overtime losses, including two that came at Mellon Arena against the team that has been their postseason nemesis for the last 18 years. The Caps improved to 2-6 in playoff overtime games against the Penguins.

"It's been a long time since we won an overtime game in Pittsburgh or even prolonged a series when Pittsburgh was able to beat us," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We've been hearing about it for two days, pretty constant, so for those guys in the room it was a pretty nice feeling."

The Capitals have a chance to really make their fans forget the past with the Penguins Wednesday night when they play Game 7 at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

A win and maybe the image of Martin Straka streaking in to beat Olaf Kolzig and score the series-clinching goal after Sergei Gonchar turned the puck over on April 24, 2001 will be erased. Perhaps, just perhaps, the image of Petr Nedved scoring in the fourth overtime on April 24, 1996 will also be lost forever.

Let's not forget about Kevin Stevens' winner on April 19, 1991, Luc Robitaille's on May 14, 1995, or Jaromir Jagr's crusher on April 15, 2000. All can be erased with a win Wednesday night.

"The message (after the third period) was, 'It's our turn,' " Boudreau said." The law of averages says it's our turn. If we can stay the course, we'll get a chance. We may get a lucky break, we may get a lucky tip, but it's our turn and you just gotta believe. That was the message before the game, too. For one night anyway, it worked."

For it to work again, the Capitals will need similar contributions from guys like Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley and, course, David Steckel, who scored the overtime winner 6:22 into extra session.

Those five forwards combined for all five goals and six points Monday night.

"This is the furthest I've been in the NHL Playoffs and we've been in survival mode for some of it, but it's certainly a lot of fun," Laich said. "It's tiring, fatiguing, but it's definitely worth it."

The Caps will have Game 7 experience to draw from and 18,277 fans screaming their red heads off for them.

This group is 1-1 in Game 7s so far, with a win in the last round against the New York Rangers and an overtime loss last year to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Right now, we came back after 3-2 and played a good team in a very loud building and we beat them," Alex Ovechkin said. "Right now, we feel more energy on our side than Pittsburgh's. They do realize it's going to be hard to come back in our building because the fans will be crazy. We're going to be flying out there, too."

As for how long Boudreau was going to allow them to celebrate their win Monday, well, the plane ride home was probably pretty business-like.

"They never quit and we'll see by the time they get on the plane they'll be all business again," he said. "You allow them the 45 minutes now to really enjoy and to soak this in."

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